All The Things You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say is a poignant Freudian dialogue between two versions of one couple, tiptoeing across important contemporary themes such as the need for touch, the essential split in the psyche of an individual, and the connection between our private and public lives. Guillaurmarc Froidevaux, Gema Galiana, Anthony Nikolchev and Zuzana Kakalikova, caress and dance the message of love, bitterness, and transience.
Speaking about the two couples, playwright Anthony Nikolchev says, “One version lives the reality of a missed chance, a missed communication, an unwanted grudge held over nothing. The other? Physically, verbally, feverishly trying what their former versions don’t – that is embracing the fantastic challenge of sharing a life.”
This small production is timely in its choreography and its underlying message: we always have the chance of “now” if we choose it. One the other hand, as is emphatically displayed by the play, we can fall into a spiral of negativity, biting at each other, chewing at the ends of our wits until one or the other has to leave the room.
It’s intelligent in the use of perspective of the floor but also about what it means to be human. For Freud, the individual is essentially split, doubled, and always in search of meaning and self. The play begins with Geliana stripping layers and layers of male clothes off before she stands in a little black dress, adorning an intense look into the audience, as if to announce her femininity; perhaps getting to the under-layers of her consciousness. What is to be found there? Intensity, passion and a great deal of ambiguity about what her lover means (if not everything!).
Hysteria, which, according to Freud, is the purview of women, is a theme which at once has the audience laughing, then jolts them back into place as they realise the underlying dread. The lovers hold each others mouths to stop them from speaking of the trivialities which does harm to their relationship. At points, they hold their own mouths, aware that what they are about to say is likely to trigger another bout of arguing, dancing, and forgiveness. So they repeat, like whirling dervishes.
The play is a good watch, recommended for psychoanalytical aficionados, or by anyone interested in the nuances of relationships, aware that there is always at least a third person, waiting in the wings to either lift them to new challenges or pleasures, or pull them down into the humdrum of another day.
Author: Ramis Cizer
All the Things You Said You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say explores the fine line between communication and miscommunication, and the consequences thereof, for a couple’s relationship through a beautifully crafted combination of physical theatre, contemporary dance and performance.
One single couple is depicted by two versions of the same relationship. There are a man and a woman who suppress their feelings, both good and bad. The other version of the same couple are a man and a woman who embrace and give a voice to all of a shared life’s challenges and delights. With All the Things You Said, Swiss-based Compagnie TDU explore a universal topic; we all know the desire to express and share our feelings with the people we love. Sometimes we are unable to do this, and our feelings keep broiling away under the surface. Other times, we give voice to our frustrations or worries and they are misunderstood, leading to unpredictable and often unnecessary friction in a relationship.
All the Things You Said moves around this topic, pokes it, sometimes comes up with a startlingly illuminating moment and then seems to lose it again. For me, the performance could have explored this fascinating theme of communication in human relationships in more depth. At times it was just a bit too abstract to make clear sense, and so many different mediums were used that the main topic was somewhat lost and confused. In some ways, the ludicrously long title seems emblematic of the show: we read it twice. We feel as though we understand what it is trying to tell us, read it again and end up completely confused and shortening it down to five simple words.
That said, the performance could have stood on its own, without a theme to explore at its base. Gema Galiana, Guillaumarc Froidevaux, Zuyana Kakalikova and Anthony Nikolchev give mesmerizing and beautiful performances, demonstrating both their dancing and acting skills. The sound design did well in enhancing their feelings, frustrations and joys. I also loved the simple and elegant set, with the actors making great use of the four chairs and single long box that were the only props in the space.
At times powerful and at times bewildering, All the Things You Said reminds us to share our innermost feelings with the people we love, as it will otherwise be too late. There’s no point wondering what we should have said, we need to go ahead and say it. Silence and suppression is never the answer.
Author: Elke Wiebalck
All The Things You Said You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say explores the struggles of one couple through four actors. Switching fluidly between different pairings throughout, the cast present everyday exchanges that have taken place between the couple, alongside the conversations which they wish they could have had; what was said constantly being judged against what might or could or should have been said, as the couple struggle to communicate.
It’s an interesting idea, and writer-performer Anthony Nikolchev cleverly manages to steer clear of cliché with his script. What could have been an artsy version of Sliding Doors is made much more interesting by not simply presenting what could have been said as a juxtaposition to what was said, but shows that even with the best intentions, saying the wrong thing is often inevitable, and that the relationship between the truth and the wished for truth is more complicated than one might think.
However, despite the interesting insights into communication that this play provides, it suffers from a lack of character development which makes these insights feel a bit flat. We are told so little about our couple and are thrown straight into fraught times that it is difficult to feel any sort of connection to them or hope for their future. When the twist at the end of the play leaves our couple in a worse position than we could have imagined, I am impressed by the narrative twist and build up, but not moved by the sad situation – it is an intellectual payoff rather than an emotional one.
However, if there is one aspect in which the play and the performers really excel, it is in the lengthy movement sequences. The cast are all talented dancers, and the balletic physical theatre is extremely impressive. Whilst injecting passion and spectacle into the show and bringing an intimacy to the characters which is not heard in the dialogue, it also proves how easy communication between the couple can be when speaking is no longer necessary.
Narrative is thin on the ground in this very short piece (it’s only about 50 minutes long) and a choppy episodic structure does not help to encourage character development, but powerful choreography and an intriguing concept keep it interesting, if not quite as emotionally powerful as I would have liked.
For physical theatre
One of my absolute favourite theatre events of last year was a site specific show in Marylebone by LA-based company Wilderness called The Day Shall Declare It. One of the male performers from that show, Anthony Nikolchev, is coming back with his new company – TDU – with a dance theatre show they’ve created with former Royal Ballet dancer Vivien Wood. The show, All the Things You Said You Never Said Before You Thought You Could Ever Say, will be at Ovalhouse from March 16 to 28.
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch is coming back to Sadler’s Wells from April 15 to 18 and 23 to 26, with two pieces of repertory from the dance-maker’s early career, Auf dem Gebirge hat man ein Geschrei gehort (On the Mountain a Cry Was Heard, 1984) and Ahnen (1987). For grand-scale scenic delights, emotional rollercoasters and fabulous dancers, this is definitely one to see.